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March 2019

Purchase College Hosts Second Annual Startup Pitching Competition

Last November, Purchase College, SUNY and its partner GenFKD took a page from reality television when they launched their own Startup Pitching Competition, modeled on the popular ABC show Shark Tank. This year’s competition took place on December 5 and gave students the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to entrepreneurs and investors.


 The contest is part of the exciting, new Startup Purchase program, which was initiated and underwritten by the Dr. E. Lawrence Deckinger Family Foundation and its Executive Director, Nancy Deckinger and spearheaded by Assistant Professor of Economics Liya Palagashvili. The contest is the culmination of a popular course entitled “Entrepreneurship and Finance: Turning Ideas into Startups,” which was taught by   Professor Palagashvili and Vadim Revzin, an entrepreneur-in-residence with GenFKD.


The judges and audience determined the winners who received a grant of up to $7,000 for their business pursuits.


This year’s grand prize went to economics and arts management seniors Angela Galli and Kelly Hayes for their Receipt to Recipe pitch, which is a mobile application designed to decrease global food waste and overuse of resources. The app will take a photo of a grocery store receipt and generate recipes from the internet based on the selected items and individual customer profile preferences.  The project also won the audience vote. The duo was awarded $5,500 for their idea.


Second place went to economics major Isaac Jones ’21 and communications major Charles Jones ’18 for their Shower Now pitch which is a portable shower device that will redefine the shower experience for athletes, campers, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities.  The project received $1,500.


“It’s so incredible that our Purchase students can have this opportunity to take the entrepreneurship course and to have the resources, mentorship, and seed capital to bring their ideas into fruition,” said Assistant Professor Palagashvili.


Angela Galli and Kelly Hayes said, “We are so thankful to have been chosen as the first place winners of the second annual Purchase Shark Tank. We are beyond excited to proceed with our start up and are optimistic about our business’s future.”


Ms. Deckinger hopes her donations help start many new businesses. She said, “I want to be a catalyst for students starting their professional lives.”


The “sharks” were a diverse group of entrepreneurs who provided invaluable feedback after each student presentation. Among them were: Micah Brown, Founder and General Partner of Centiment Capital; Sarah Hill, CEO & Founder of Bobi NYC, Founder of Bookstr.com;Nick Ohnell, philanthropist and founder of Ohnell Capital (founder and former CEO of Communications Supply Corp); Tola L., Executive Director and Founder of Gyrl Wonder, Entrepreneur; Oz Sultan, Partner, Tareo Digital Fund and Sr. Fellow, National Minority Technology Council; and  Brittany Chambers - Entrepreneurship Research and Curriculum Director, GenFKD.


The winners of last year’s competition were economics majors Maxwell Pearce ’18 and Derick Ansah ’17 who founded Flynance, a startup organization that helps young athletes navigate the complex world of collegiate and professional sports while learning basic pocketbook economics. Pearce, who was senior captain of the men’s basketball team at Purchase, is now playing professionally with the Harlem Globetrotters.


The Startup Purchase program offers courses, mentors, resources, and funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs.


Through Startup Purchase, the college has been partnering with GenFKD, a non-profit designed to increase young Americans’ understanding of financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and the skills necessary for careers in the new economy. “Entrepreneurship and Finance: Turning Ideas into Startups” focuses on entrepreneurship and career-readiness through an intensive curriculum developed by GenFKD that included storytelling, networking, data analysis, budgeting and finance, pitching, leadership, negotiation strategies, taxes, and regulation.


Next semester the Foundation will support a new course. “Entrepreneurship Course Level II: Executing Your Own Business Plan” will help students bring their ideas to life through executing their business plans. The course, which features curriculum developed by GenFKD, will also be co-taught by Vadim Revzin and Liya Palagashvili.


Since 2011, the Deckinger Family Foundation has established a number of programs in both Journalism and Economics. First, the Foundation launched the only undergraduate Investigative Reporting course in the entire SUNY system. Thanks to the Foundation’s continued generosity, this class has become a mainstay of the Journalism Program. The Foundation has increased and expanded its support to include, among other things, the establishment of the Journalism Internship Fund, the Journalism Story Contest, and the Economics Essay Contest, and special guest speakers.


Photo credit: Paige DeMaio